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My arms, raised in praise early on Easter morning, now hung limp by my sides. Awash in shame, I chided myself for unkind, angry words. You can’t even make it through the most holy of days without making a mess of things.  

Bowing my head in prayer, a tear etched a trail down my cheek as I released words of confession.

Unholiness always leads to heartache. #remnantlife #livinginthedaysofezra Click To Tweet

God’s people knew the sting of heartache far too well. Finally, after years of captivity in Babylon, they’d returned to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls and temple. But Ezra the scribe discovered a truth that put the remnant living in the city at risk of angering God.

The people had failed to separate themselves from the other nations.

In our world, political correctness is king–but God wasn’t concerned about protecting feelings nor was He promoting one race above another. The Lord knew the nations surrounding Israel worshipped other gods. When the Israelites and people of other nations intermarried, God’s people always worshipped false idols.

Unholiness always leads to heartache.

The scripture reads, “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.”

As I consider the words of the Old Testament prophet, I’m reminded of two core truths. First, we have freedom from personal sin through Christ Jesus. No matter my failings–whether they are on Resurrection Sunday or any other day, I am released to live abundantly because of Him.  If you believe in Him as your Savior, you have that assurance as well.

Those of us who cling to Him during these trying times are a modern-day remnant. Nothing can persuade us away from Him for we are slaves to Christ and through Him we have the promise of new life in the house of God.… Click To Tweet

Not only that, but those of us who cling to Him during these trying times are a modern-day remnant. Nothing can persuade us away from Him for we are slaves to Christ and through Him we have the promise of new life in the house of God. No matter the calamity around us, He is our wall of protection.

Unholiness always leads to heartache, but a heart following after Christ leads to hope.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often linkup with the following wonderful bloggers.

 

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

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The soil, still wearing winter’s crust, almost taunts the farmer–daring him to unleash the toothed blade.

Greeting the day before the moon is veiled beyond earth’s ridge, the man drops the tool behind his machine and tills narrow ditches in a quilt-like pattern–overturning dead, useless roots. The untouched soil lifts its face toward the sun, revealing the beauty of burnt sienna enriched by a year of rest.

He releases the promise of a new crop to nestle among the folds of freshly turned ground; miniature capsules of gold contained until nature beckons life from within.

These are the fallow crops dotting the rugged terrain of the Montana prairie. Cared for and tended, they will yield shimmering crops of wheat. But those who refuse to allow the land a season of Sabbath see a diminished return season by season. The ground, stripped of its nutrients, fails to produce in abundance.

Others allow wild grasses to infest their fields. Only distinguished from wheat at maturity, rye mimics the favored crop of the eastern plains. Its stalk bends playfully in the hot, western wind as if jeering at passersby. Who will bend low enough to pluck me from my roots?

But there is no other way to remove the weed before its imposter seedlings spill from their casings and contaminate next year’s yield. The farmer must grasp the plant at its base; his fingers soiled by labor.

In the same way, the problems and distractions of this world can easily choke out our own spiritual growth.

When I forget to rest in Him, my spirit is as dry and dusty as over-farmed acreage. I thirst but there is no relief and the high winds that race across the landscape toss me around as easily as Russian thistle.

If I fail to cultivate the soil of my heart with worship and Biblical study, the unwelcome invaders of worry, fear, and anxiety mark my life. Only in allowing the Master gardener daily access to my inner self am I rid of what must remain rooted out.

Can you relate? Do you, too, need the loving hand of the winnowing Father to separate the plenty from the imperfect?

Some days, the unwelcome weeds stand tall–their presence dripping with possibility and the potential to infect my thoughts and actions. To invade the way I interact with my husband and children. To send anti-truth tendrils into the work God has for me to do.

At times I remain hard and unchanged, unwilling to invite the freshness of God’s word to penetrate my heart and foster newness within. But like a well-maintained field that is harrowed and then remains fallow for a time, the Planter remains faithful to His work.

The seeds are sown. The noxious plants removed. And slowly, meticulously I am being readied for the day of harvest.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often linkup with the following wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

Read Full Post »

 

The frustration ran deep and the journey was long. Decades of caring for anyone with a need left me collapsed on heaven’s doorstep. Lord, I’ve been serving a long time. When do I get to enjoy that abundant life I keep hearing about?

Don’t get me wrong. I saw glimpses and enjoyed seasons of fulfillment. Raising my daughters as a homeschool mom was a sacrifice rich in joyful memories. Befriending women in the church in various settings blessed me with delightful relationships. In spite of the good times, somehow along the way, I lost my bearings.

Why

Women are prone to that process. We tend to focus our empathy and compassion outward, doing our best to contribute to everyone else’s happily ever after. And there’s a reason for that. We live in a fallen world where mankind’s vertical connection with our Creator is broken, and horizontal relationships take precedent.

Eve may not have grasped the significance of God’s words when He explained the security of her divine friendship with Him was replaced with the uncertainty of a human bond. But she surely sensed the trauma triad of fear, shame, and panic when she and Adam were sent from the Garden, the only home she’d ever known.

 

What

Like Eve, the trauma triad grabbed hold of me. Violence and denial turned my childhood home into a fight-for-survival environment. Hypervigilance became my coping skill of choice as I worked to de-escalate the atmosphere. As a result, the people-pleasing habit plowed deep furrows across my path right into adulthood.

The people-pleasing habit plowed deep furrows across my path right into adulthood.#habits Click To Tweet

When I heard life would be grand if I trusted Jesus, I was ready for grand and walked the aisle. My immature reasoning latched on to what the Christian community taught. If I wanted to please Jesus, which I did, all I needed to do was become a servant. And everybody knows a good servant pleases the one they serve.

Family, friends, and fellow church members were already on my list of responsibilities when neighbors were added. Since God describes our neighbor as any needy soul with whom we interact, in order to please Him, I would need to please everyone around me. The vertical-horizontal effects of the Fall overwhelmed me.

 

Who

Collapse is a good description of the moment I realized I was twisted into a shape I didn’t recognize. My dedication to reach out to others to satisfy God led me to abandon the unique me He designed with a purpose. Worse still, my efforts to secure the Eden intimacy I craved with Him brought little more than a nodding acquaintance.

In mute despair, I looked to Jesus. His response was gentle and compassionate.

Jesus invited me to rest in His presence and His Word. As I responded, He reminded me how precious I am because I am His, that His promises of protection and provision are for me. He taught me that I need to set my focus on Him because what fills my thoughts becomes the object of my worship.

...What fills my thoughts becomes the object of my worship.#worship #rightthoughts Click To Tweet

In confession and repentance, by God’s mercy and grace, my view is clearing. His call to love others is based on our loving Him with complete abandon, to include a healthy dose of awareness and love for ourselves as His creation. With this relationship, we become divine conduits for His love to flow at His will.

Worship is my new weapon against trauma or anything that threatens my peace.#prayalways Click To Tweet

Worship is my new weapon against trauma or anything that threatens my peace. Scripture, prayer, music, change of scenery . . . whatever it takes to rip my focus away from the struggle and set it back on the One who made and cherishes me. The peace and joy that fill me are the best description of the abundant life I can imagine.

You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.

Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30:11-12 NIV

 

BIO

 

Sandra Allen Lovelace has been walking beside women cross-culturally for more than 40 years. She’s a popular speaker and biblical teacher known for her warm authenticity and practical approach. She’s also an author with an award-winning blog, two titles in print, and a third book in process.

By experience and training in the journey, Sandra informs, affirms, and inspires women as they heal from the impact of trauma. In her role as mentor and coach, she delights in watching fellow Wallflower Women step into and enjoy their God-given design and purpose. Sandra’s easy to reach.

SandraAllenLovelace@gmail.com

FB/SandraAllenLovelace

IG/SandraAllenLovelace

 

 

Thank you Sandra, for sharing part of your story with us. I see myself in what you’ve written and appreciate your wisdom and encouragement. Friends, please hop over to Sandra’s wonderful blog or meet up with her online. I know you’ll be blessed!

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I sometimes link-up with these wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network

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Jesus…his name evokes a variety of images. A newborn infant wrapped in rags. A man of righteous anger defending his Father’s temple. A man of generous spirit giving all of himself—even to the point of death.

Imagine the scene. Shaking uncontrollably, the woman begged for mercy as people pressed around her. The shouts and cruel slurs of the Good Ones, the Religious Ones, pierced her heart the most. Adulterer! Harlot! Worthless!

Feeling the heat of shame on her face, the woman bowed her head ready to accept the punishment. She knew death was imminent. Uttering a prayer, the woman steeled herself for the first crushing blow of rock against flesh and bone.

Suddenly, the roar of the crowd quieted as Jesus—the one some called Messiah– stepped between the Religious and the Sinful Woman. His body a shield, Jesus knelt low and carefully, deliberately wrote something in the sand. Could he have written the word mercy? Or, perhaps, love? Maybe Jesus simply sketched SIN—large enough for everyone in the throng of people to see.

Dusting the sand from his hands, Jesus rose slowly—glancing at each person in turn.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

A few shifted uncomfortably while others refused to meet the Teacher’s eyes. Many of the Religious Ones scoffed. The crowd’s fevered excitement had diminished and people began to move away from the woman. Several minutes later, the woman stood in front of her Savior—rescued from her sin, delivered from the accusers, and promised a new life because of Christ’s eternal mercy.

Christ’s spirit of generosity was lived day by day with intentionality. Dear ones, let us live intentional lives with Christ’s glory and the good of others in mind!

Scripture for Reflection

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:1-8)

 

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